Well, Wendy enjoyed a geography lesson today when she learnt that Evaton is not a part of the Soweto municipal area – in fact, very far from!
Evaton is in an informal settlement north of an area called Sebokeng in the Emfuleni region of Gauteng. It was established in 1904 and was affected by violent unrest which erupted in 1984 and by 1985 a state of emergency was imposed in this area.
The streets of Evaton.
It took us just over an hour (!!!??) to find the Day Care Centre we visited yesterday. This very well managed project looks after 138 children from the immediate surrounds and the principal was telling us that very many of the children’s families are from Zimbabwe. Imagine their surprise when Tracey, my niece who is in SA from Zimbabwe, greeted the children in Shona, a language predominantly spoken in Zimbabwe.
The children were very excited to see us – it took us so long to get there they may well have given up hope of us ever arriving! They lined up in neat rows for their warm tops and beanies, but this orderly process quickly changed when the toys came out and the children shrieked with excitement at the sight of all the lovely soft toys. We then distributed blankets that were sewn together by a group of about 20 ladies and gentlemen who get together at a house that has been converted into a type of community centre for the elderly. Enjoy these photos of the children:
It was so special watching the children receive your wonderful contributions and I only wish I could share with you the energy and love that filled those classrooms. We also laughed so much watching them try to use their blankets to tie their new toys onto their backs. This is how very many children are carried in South Africa – on their mother’s backs.
Take a look at these precious little ones with their own “babies”:
The principal of the Day Care was very grateful for the food and stationery we took through.
After spending time with the children, Connie, who was the lady who arranged this particular distribution through Wandile, asked us whether we could please pop in at the house where the elderly women (and two gentlemen also) met and sewed together our blankets. We did pop by and after a great many hugs and hand shaking, they asked me to explain just how KAS came about and they were fascinated by the story and so grateful for the opportunity to get involved themselves. We left some bread and apples for them to enjoy too and I have promised them some more blankets packs.
Well, we are expecting another large crowd of volunteers today and we will tackle the mail we receive, sew together blankets and pack up more boxes to send to Durban and Cape Town where they are anxiously awaited by Elna in Stellenbosch whose Lindelani project is going from strength to strength – and Maureen in Pietermaritzburg. We are grateful to Peter’s company, PCS, for helping us with intercity transport free of charge!
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Great Report Ronda, it really felt like being there! Could almost hear the laughter and fun when the children attempted to surround their cuddly toys with the blanket on the backs - what a hoot that must have been! And how special, they by 'chance' Tracey came with you and was able to speak to them in their own Shona language. This has made my day!!!!
Welcome home, Ronda!!
Thanks for yet another wonderful report. It's almost like being there with you. Thanks, too, for the picture of Evaton. It really looks like such a dismal place, as do so many others we see in your photos. It seems like the brightest things in the childrens' lives might just be the blankets, tops and beanies they receive. I am so glad you had enough cuddlies to take to put a smile on their dear little faces. Your photos certainly put a smile on mine!
It was good, too, to read about the seniors who are participating by sewing the blankets. It must give them a lot of satisfaction to join in our project.
Ronda, could you answer a question about the day care centres?? Do the children who attend have to pay anything? - or is there some sort of government subsidy that helps cover the cost of keeping them going? The centres are obviously very poor and yet seem to be well-run by loving people. I just don't understand how they manage - they must have to pay rent and hopefully at least a small stipend to the caregivers., but where does it come from?..... or is all of this done on a vounteer basis??
Your earlier photos from the Mama Ntombi distribution left me in tears at the sight of some of those children. Even though that is a 'Sunday only' get-together, it is heartwarming to hear how the congregation of that church has come together to do this and financially support the food etc. How wonderful that Peter's company can help you get things to the Durban area. I hope the KASfolk will continue to deluge you with squares and other things so you can send them some more.
Huge hugs to you all
Anne I'd love to know as well. Are there any feeding programmes we can support who do the work of looking after the children inbetween KAS visits?
Mary - I don't know how Ronda will answer about feeding programs, but I can tell you that we can do something to support this idea right here through KAS.
If you visit the KAS Shop, you will find an item "Snacks"
In previous Reports, Ronda has mentioned that they often take more than just snacks for the actual distribution day, and our contributions make it possible for her to take along things like pasta, rice, dried soups and other things which help out, at least a little. in the feeding of these children after her visit.
yes have contributed towards snacks especially as they are in the middle of the winter.
OH, Anne, when I saw the picture of the children carrying their toys on their backs, I was immediately reminded of your square depicting that during the July challenge -- so beautifully done, and somehow, so African.
It also reminds me that children copy what they see in adults. It makes the work of the KAS volunteers in South Africa even more important ... what they see during a distribution is smiles, laughter, warm hugs, sharing and giving! Very good things to imitate.
Thank you so much for sharing this visit with us, Ronda....as always, your words bring the day alive for us and we are able to imagine the immense joy that comes with these distributions.
I most whole-heartedly agree with Pam.....this has made my day. :o)
I love that all of US are a part of a little bright spot in some of the lives of these beautiful people. Thank you, Ronda, for making that possible. Thank God for you and your caring heart. I am thankful that you have made a way for the world to become part of a helping hand to a people who just need a break. It makes me feel like I'm part of such a bigger thing, and it does make me happy to know our efforts really touch lives. You are a Godsend, Ronda! Bless you!
Such a heartwarming story Ronda. How lovely to see the youngsters with their blankets and cuddlies:)
It is wonderful to read of all these groups of people who are anxiously awaiting the next KAS squares to sew up--we are truly joining hands with them from around the world.
"Shrieks of Joy"--that is ringing in my ears. I have some stuffed toys sitting here and will mail them off today!
Thanks so much for such a VERY uplifting and inspiring report. I didn't know anything about Evaton but I am happy to learn and to see that slip-ins and toys and hats and blankets and FOOD are getting to people who so richly deserve to feel the love we are sending to them. Because it IS love, when you come down to it...each square is love, each hat and sweater and food too---YIPPEE! My day feels much brighter after reading this. Thank you! :D